It's official: Start worrying about Utley

Sure, a lot of us have had concerns about Chase Utley all spring long. But now, it's officially time to be concerned, since the former all-star has left camp to be seen by a specialist who deals in chronic knee issues. So the question is, now what?

Nobody looks forward to Monday mornings, but this one was particularly bad for Phillies fans. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. started his week by announcing that Chase Utley had left camp to have his ailing knees checked out by a specialist.

It's officially time to worry, because when the Phillies announce that there's an injury problem, you know it's got to be bad. As recently as two days ago, Amaro and the official Phillies line was that Utley might start playing in games this week. Now, the news is that it would take a near miracle for him to not start the season on the DL and the situation has actually gotten worse, because the issue now isn't just his right knee, it's both knees.

The Phillies and Utley have both been very guarded about what Utley's injury problem is, but it's thought that the cartilage in both knees is deteriorated and has possibly been completely worn away. There is no way to grow cartilage, so the options are for Utley to try to play through the pain or most likely undergo knee replacement surgery.

Again, that's based on what Utley's injury is thought to be.

With the official word on Utley's demise, the Phillies will have $35 million worth of infielders on the DL to start the season. Ryan Howard won't return to the lineup until at least around Memorial Day. To put it another way, the Phillies third and fourth highest paid players won't be taking the field to start the season. Ouch!

With that said, you heard it here first. Amaro announced that Freddy Galvis will get the nod as the Phillies starting second baseman to start the season. A scenario that was brought up less than a week ago on Philly Baseball Insider.

Amaro either knew something all along regarding Utley's physical condition, played a hunch or just got plain lucky. When he re-signed Jimmy Rollins to a three-year deal, it seemingly blocked Galvis who had previously played only at shortstop. To block a 22-year old prospect who was thought to be extremely close to being major league ready is a risky proposition. Whatever the case, it appears to have worked out well for Galvis, who has taken easily to playing second base and will make his major league debut sooner rather than later with the Phillies.

Word on the street is that the Phillies have been searching for a veteran infielder to add to their roster. Right now, the Phillies seem to be focusing on Boston's Mike Aviles, but the Red Sox may need Aviles to be their starting shortstop, so whether or not he's available isn't clear.

Two other potential targets would be the Angels' Alberto Callaspo or Baltimore's Robert Andino, who are both thought to be available. Who knows, maybe they could even talk the Cincinnati Reds into dealing Wilson Valdez back to the City of Brotherly Love.

The addition of Ty Wigginton not withstanding, the Phillies could now use another utility infielder. Wigginton is known much more for his offense than defense, although he can play a number of defensive positions.

Luckily for the Phillies, Galvis is showing that he can handle second base defensively and this spring, he's shown a stronger bat than he has in springs past. He also showed that stronger bat last season, especially after being promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he hit .298 in 33 games with the IronPigs last season.

So there it is; Utley and Howard start the year on the DL, and it's not clear how first base and left field will play out. Not exactly a great spot for the Phillies to be sitting in right now, especially with a National League East that got a lot tougher to during the offseason.



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